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California bill to ban microbeads fails

By Simon Pitman+

25-Aug-2014
Last updated on 25-Aug-2014 at 22:10 GMT

California bill to ban microbeads fails

A California state bill to ban microbeads that are used in a range of personal care products has failed to go through the state senate with a clear majority, creating a potential stumbling block for environmental campaigners.

The initial vote was on the bill, AB1699, fell one short of the 21 majority it needed to pass it and make it law in the state of California.

The bill was represented in the senate by Democratic Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, who has regularly campaigned on a number of key environmental issues in her constituency over the years, including pesticides use, oil drilling and water conservation.

Aiming to create a level field for manufacturers

Senator Jackson argued that the bill’s passage would enable the field to be levelled in California, during a time when many cosmetic and personal care manufacturers are already making moves to phase the ingredient out from production.

The author of the bill is Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom of District 50, who submitted the bill for consideration at the end of June, demanding that microbeads be completely phased out of cosmetic and personal care products in California by 2019.

“Microbeads are a significant part of the debris accumulating in the Pacific Ocean and are also found at alarming levels in our local waterways,” said Bloom at the time of first submitting the bill. 

“We have no choice but to eliminate this pollution at the source. Waiting will only compound the problem and the price of cleaning up.”

But the fight is not over. Bloom now says he wants to resubmit the bill to the California Senate in the course of the next week, before the legislature adjourns for the legal year.

Is this the end for microbeads?

Legislative moves to ban microbeads in personal care formulations are also in motion in the states of Illinois and New York, which could ultimately make this environmentally toxic ingredient a thing of the past.

In June Illinois became the first State to put in motion a ban on microbeads in personal care formulations, by using scientific data to prove that lakes and waterways in the state were being polluted by the tiny beads of plastic, which are not biodegradeable.

State law now proposes that no personal care product containing microbeads can be sold beyond 2018, with a complete ban by 2019.

Likewise, the New York Assembly has also led the way, passing legislation for the state of New York that proposes a phase-out dead-line of 2015.

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